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North Korea has apparently outlawed the wearing of leather trench coats because totalitarian leader Kim Jong-un does not want his citizens dressing like like him.
The coat, which was first worn by Kim in 2019, proved popular among North Korean elites who wanted to express their allegiance to the Supreme Leader but couldn’t afford real leather.
However, fashion police have reportedly been sent to shut down merchants selling fake leather trench coats and remove them from people, amid concerns that it cheapens Kim’s appearance and weakens his authority.
‘[Police] say that wearing clothes designed to look like the Highest Dignity’s is an ‘impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity,’ a source told Radio Free Asia, using a common honorific to refer to Kim.
‘They instructed the public not to wear leather coats, because it is part of the party’s directive to decide who can wear them.’
The outlet said knock-off versions of the coat first began appearing in September this year when unofficial trade between China and North Korea was reopened following a shut-down during the Covid pandemic.
That allowed traders to start acquiring synthetic leather to make the coats from.
Radio Free Asia claimed to have seen an import document from recent months that showed dozens of metres of the material being imported.
Kim first appeared in a leather coat in December 2019, around the time he was negotiating with Donald Trump over North Korea’s nuclear stockpile.
The styling was noted by South Korean media, which suggested it was indicative of Kim’s desire to break with tradition and forge his own identity. He had largely styled himself after his father and grandfather, the founder of North Korea by wearing Mao-style jackets and horn-rimmed glasses.